Jason and the Scorchers Wildfires & Misfires

As one of the great trailblazing cow-punk bands of the early '80s, the Scorchers added a much-needed jolt to American rock at the time, but consequently were viewed as a novelty for their love of traditional country. This collection gathers up the rarities, yet it surprisingly shows that even as the band rode the tides of various trends, they could still muster up some fine, muscular performances. The band's highs and lows are best encapsulated in front-man Jason Ringenberg. While he's always had a commanding stage presence, he relied on it too much to overcome his limited vocal range and passable songwriting ability. The rest of the band, led by powerhouse guitarist Warner Hodges, most often picked up the slack. It is to their credit then that this album contains almost an equal amount of covers to originals, from the demo of their breakthrough version of Bob Dylan's "Absolutely Sweet Marie" to a raging rendition of Mel Tillis's "Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town," featuring the Georgia Satellites' Rick Richards. For fans of the Scorchers, Wildfires & Misfires is a worthy overview of their career, but even for those who might have only briefly paid attention to them, this album makes for a nice reintroduction to one of the most important American roots-rock outfits. (Yep Roc)